Laois/Offaly TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community & Local Government Brian Stanley has described Minister Hogan’s local government bill is another attack on local democracy.
Speaking at Leinster House on Thursday in response to the launch of the local government bill Stanley said, “It’s been 12 months since the government launched their local government proposals, ‘Putting People First’. This bill has been a long time coming. But its publication is another let down for local democracy.
“It is another attack on local democracy and falls short of reform by any measure. Unfortunately this Fine Gael/Labour Party government, like its Fianna Fail predecessor, continues to take these powers from local councils and centralise them in the customs house.
Deputy Stanley stated that Sinn Féin has been to the fore in demanding real reform of local government.
He commented, “Current local government structures are not fit for purpose. Today’s proposals will do nothing to change that. We want to see maximum power devolved from central government to local authorities. These powers include economic planning, waste management, water & sewage and housing.
“It is our view that any reform of local government must ensure the efficient and cost effective delivery of services, have structures fit for purpose and have democratic accountability at its core.
“Sinn Féin reject today’s proposal to cull the number of councillors to 949. This is a drastic decrease and leaves the state with one of the lowest number of councillors per head of population than any of the OECD countries. We propose there should be a minimum of 1165 councillors. This is in line with the Reform of Public Administration in the Six Counties.
The Laois Offaly TD said that his party believes that, in order to do this, there needs to be significant and far reaching reforms not as he described it the kind of window dressing the minister has presented.
“Our priorities for local government are the establishment of local district councils, establishing local authority housing trusts to commence a state-wide building programme and the development of economic spatial plans. This will ensure power is devolved to local level; homes are built to meet the needs of the 112,000 on the housing lists and councils can plan for economic development that benefits the entire community,” concluded Deputy Stanley